The way to wellness
Nobody is responsible for the quality of your life except yourself. So take charge, make a conscious decision to follow a lifestyle that will ensure your long-term, all-round wellness.
Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar
Connecting to the silence within: Clears the mental cobwebs.
When you say, “I’m fine, doing well,” what exactly do you mean? Just returned from a high-end spa, passed an exam, bought a new dress, lost a couple of kilos, haven’t had a cold in two months, discovered that your car gives unexpected mileage, heard your MIL is moving permanently out of town, the boss hasn’t called for an explanation this week …what is it? What makes you feel well?
All these are reasons for joy. But only for a while. Wellness isn’t only “for a while”. Wellness is ongoing, something that should come with a lifetime warranty. The good news is you can start at any time of your life to go on a wellness spree. If you’re derailed, you can get back on the track. Do it, errr, well, and the results will show.
A balanced life
If your eyes are hurting, if you have a headache or stomach flu, if you’re paying for computer/ TV addiction with pain in the neck/ back/ knees, nursing a real sports injury or have knees that go “ouch”, you’re on the unwell list and need medical help and rest. You also need to adjust your habits to “live in such a way that you don’t get sick or, at the least, in such a way as to strengthen your immunity so that illness does not last as long as it might otherwise.” If your hurt goes deeper, scraping emotions because of guilt, stress, loss, humiliation or disappointment, you need solace, the ability to cope. Wellness includes all this, it’s the state of homeostasis — integration and balance of physical, emotional, psychological, social, environmental and spiritual health. Dr. Dunn, who described wellness in 1961, saw it as a multidimensional philosophy.
Homeostasis is fragile and dynamic. It is non-constant. You could wake up feeling very fit, but ah, that might change. So being totally well is a 24/7/365 job that comes with a condition. People around you must share your fervour for wellness. Your time isn’t going to be a happy if you’re in a Grumpies’ Colony. So surround yourself with cheerful, optimistic people. And benefit from their company.
“Take life in a positive manner,” says Brinda Jayaraman, family counsellor. “Squeeze out of negative thoughts when they smother you. Tell yourself, “No, this is not the end,” instead of ‘Why me?’” Her doctor friend, she said, had the right prescription for wellness. “He said that it was by accident that he was healthy. He approached wellness with a sense of gratitude. Everyone gets ill. If it’s minor, you say, ‘This will pass.’ If not, learn to live with it. I don’t allow physical or mental pain to dominate me.”
An expat told her, “Every morning when I shave, I tell myself, ‘Today I’m going to be happy.’” There’s always someone to ruin your day, Brinda warns, so watch out! “Wasn’t it Ms. Roosevelt who said, ‘Nothing can hurt me without my consent’? If you have a predisposition for worrying, if you have a Type V (vulnerable) personality, move into a supportive environment. A patient told me, ‘After I was diagnosed with cancer, I realised I was on borrowed time. It was a deadline for me. But for it, I would never have done the things I wanted to.’” Remember the Jack Nicholson/ Morgan Freeman movie “The Bucket List”?
Start being honest
So take charge, be honest, stop whining, cut out the blame game and accept responsibility for the quality of your life. Don’t make excuse-finding your hobby. Be accountable. Use your gut feeling. Eat well, learn to laugh. Have fun with responsible friends. Read good books. Check what the newspapers are saying. Talk to intelligent thinkers. Take care of the environment. Grow vegetables and flowers. Gardening is a wonderful pick-upper. Hug people. Play with grandchildren. Once in a while, talk less. Enjoy whatever you do. Your attitudes and actions work for you better than doctors, the economy, environment, income, age, retirement plan or luck.
And sure, soak in a spa or sign up for an oil massage under trained hands. Sometimes just a long, leisurely bath can be so invigorating. Have you bathed in a river? Try it the next time you’re near one that is free from toxic waste. If you’re passing through a mountain, get under a waterfall. Planning a holiday? Make sure it’s far from the madding crowd. Once there, eat light, stretch out, get a massage and go for walks on the beach. Enjoy the silence.
Make time for meditation daily. In our cacophonic world, keeping off noise within and without is such a relief. It helps you clear mental cobwebs and detox the thinking cells. Have you heard of Vipasana? This form of meditation does not require belief in any God or Guru. It can be done at any time of the day. It is credited with improving mental capacity.
Take up yoga, the ultimate exercise. Its practitioners swear by it. Yoga is workout sans pain. Combine it with pranayama — your life is measured by every breath you take — and you have an excellent recipe for wellness. Yoga trains the mind to concentrate, and is about the only system geared to massage the internal organs. Regular yoga and a proper diet shape the body, steady the mind and leave you refreshed. Yoga can be tailored to suit your kind of metabolism.
A good blue-print for wellness should make you free of alcohol, drugs and docs. Wellness, say gurus, is a philosophy of life: it could be the high reaches of “God is in me so I need to take care” or the ground level “I have a right and duty to look after myself.” It is a conscious decision to follow a healthy lifestyle free from laziness and self-pity, doing things that are immensely satisfying for your well-being in the long run.
We now live longer; shouldn’t we plan for an optimum use of life? “Healthy” is a lot more than “not being sick”. It’s a lifelong pursuit, so take your daily dose of wellness and enjoy the trip!
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